The Columbus Blue Jackets playoffs have gotten off to a great start. They’ve proven they have a chance against the Tampa Bay Lightning and showed it Wednesday night. Columbus was written off by mostly everybody in the hockey world, including some from their city. Writing off the Blue Jackets was easy since the Lightning are arguably one of the greatest regular season teams in the history of the league. Despite that, the Blue Jackets managed to pull off what is most likely the most significant win in franchise history, there is still much work to do.
The Game That Proved It
The first period started out looking like Tampa Bay was going to win and it wasn’t going to be close. The Lightning scored three goals while the Blue Jackets looked scared. The Blue Jackets gave up a short-handed goal, and Sergei Bobrovsky looked extremely shaky.
The second period is where everything changed. Columbus came out more enthusiastic while Tampa Bay came out relaxed. However, the main difference was Bobrovsky who stood on his head from this point on. He made a huge two-on-zero save in the first minute of the period. Then another one with less than a second left to keep it a two-goal game. Had Bobrovksy let either of those shots go in the game would have gone differently.
In the third period, the Blue Jackets became more aggressive and converted on their opportunities, scoring three goals that period. However, it was Bobrovsky yet again that stopped everything Tampa Bay was throwing at him. The Lightning had multiple chances in the third that would have typically gone in but was stopped by the Columbus netminder
What Has to Happen the Rest of the Way
The Blue Jackets have stolen game one on the road, and that is something to celebrate. However, Columbus has to remember last year when they took Games 1 and 2 and still lost in six games to the Washington Capitals. The rest of this series the Blue Jackets cannot afford to get down as they did in game one. They always have to keep the game in striking distance.
Make the Most of It
To keep giving themselves chances to win, the Blue Jackets must do a few things. They must convert when they are given the opportunities to score. Columbus did that in the second and third periods last night but did not in the first. This goes for the whole team just not the main scorers. Two of the four goals last night were by defencemen. While David Savard is riding a hot streak and Seth Jones offensive abilities are well known, neither had double-digit goal totals this season.
The second is to limit the number of turnovers, especially in the defensive zone. All three of the Lightning goals came off of turnovers. The first was Jones missing the puck on a pass by the offensive blue line that leads to a breakaway. The other two both happened while Columbus was trying to clear the defensive zone.
Bobrovsky is The Key
The third thing is that Bobrovsky has to continue to play the way he did after the first period. Tampa Bay’s offense is elite and can score at will when a goalie is having a decent day. Bobrovsky has to continue to stand on his head for the rest of this series if the Blue Jacket want to continue to pull off this upset.
Tampa Bay is not going to take this loss lying down. They are going to come back strong and angry. Friday’s Game 2 has become a must win for the Lightning and expect them to play like that. Columbus has to be ready for this, use game one as confidence but don’t get cocky from it. Expect the Blue Jackets to play the rest of this series with a little bit more confidence in themselves. If they do, it will tremendously help to keep doing those three things the rest of this series.
VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 24: Columbus Blue Jackets Left Wing Ryan Dzingel (19) is congratulated at the players bench after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on March 20, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)